Battle of the Stereotypes?

The bulldozer is coming for you

I’ve blogged a few times about the case of Ahmad Mesdaq, whose posh cigar store in San Diego’s fashionable Gaslamp District is being condemned to make way for a hotel, instead. Today, Mr. Mesdaq forwarded me this truly shocking article about eminent domain in San Jose. San Jose has the distinction of having, in my opinion, the single greediest Redevelopment Agency in California. Since it was founded, the Agency has declared a third of the entire city—sixty square miles—blighted. Now, San Jose’s got its problems, but that’s going a little far.

At least, that was the decision of Judge Joseph Huber, who found that the city’s declaration of blight was not supported by enough evidence.

One interesting paragraph from the news article:

“Windshield surveys” of the type employed by [the city’s consultant] Keyser Marston in this case—where a surveyor never enters a building, but simply scopes a neighborhood from a sidewalk or by driving around it noting vacancies or peeling paint—no longer pass muster, he says.

(You read that right—cities often employ consultants who find a neighborhood blighted by driving through it and looking at things from the car window. Man, I am in the wrong business.)

The ruling is only tentative, and is only a trial court decision, so this is far from over. But it is refreshing to see at least someone taking these issues seriously.